President Nelson Traveled to 16 Nations and Territories during First Year as Prophet

Contributed By Scott Taylor, Church News Managing Editor

  • 8 January 2019

President Russell M. Nelson hugs children after they rushed to meet him in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Monday, October 22, 2018.

Five continents. Sixteen nations and territories. Twenty-four cities. And some 55,000 flight miles—well more than twice the earth’s circumference. Those numbers underscore the seven ministering travels and tours of President Russell M. Nelson in his first year as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“We don’t have time for jet lag,” President Nelson quipped at the end of his first global tour in April, which included eight cities in 11 days across Europe, Africa, and Asia before a final stop in Hawaii.

But more meaningful than the distances traveled and locations visited are the tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who personally listened to President Nelson—many in a prophet’s presence for the first time. Many devotionals were also broadcast by satellite or closed-circuit TV to meetinghouses in outlying areas, reaching tens of thousands more.

“Really, we want to get to every country, to every person,” President Nelson said at one of his two dozen stops. “And that won’t be possible—but we’ll try.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who accompanied President Nelson on his first trip in April, said the symbolism of that tour—which carries over to subsequent travels—is “so that the whole world, the whole Church, would know that their prophet cares about them.”

Below is a recap of President Nelson’s devotionals conducted across the globe since he was ordained as prophet on January 14, 2018.

April—Europe, Africa, Asia, Hawaii

President Russell M. Nelson holds a young Latter-day Saint girl in Harare, Zimbabwe. President Nelson and his wife, Wendy, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife, Patricia, met with members of the Church in a devotional Tuesday, April 17.

Meetings in London, England; Jerusalem, Israel; Nairobi, Kenya; Harare, Zimbabwe; Bengaluru, India; Bangkok, Thailand; Hong Kong; and Laie, Hawaii

Traveling with Sister Wendy Nelson, Elder Holland, and Sister Patricia Holland

“We’re bringing the love of the Lord to the people, and they will learn to love each other,” said President Nelson in London, England, the first stop of his inaugural tour not long after the April 2018 general conference.

Member devotionals and missionary meetings were conducted from London’s Hyde Park to the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center overlooking the Old City’s Temple Mount and then on to cities that either host current temples (Hong Kong and Laie) or have temples either announced or under construction (Nairobi, Harare, Bengaluru, and Bangkok).

“Really everything we’ve done in these last few days together circling the globe could be summed up in two words—the temple,” said President Nelson in the tour’s final stop on the island of Oahu.

June—Canada

President Russell M. Nelson, joined by his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, waves to the 8,000 members and visitors at the conclusion of the Sunday night, August 19, 2018, devotional held at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario. Photo by Scott Taylor, Church News.

Meetings in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and Raymond, Alberta, Canada

Traveling with Sister Nelson, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Melanie Rasband

For his next travels, President Nelson conducted three devotionals in as many weekend evenings in the province of Alberta, home of his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, who was born and raised in Raymond and then studied and worked as a marriage and family therapist in Calgary.

In conjunction with the Calgary and Raymond devotionals, Sister Nelson was able to introduce her husband to many of her extended family and friends in the Calgary and Raymond areas. (See related article.)

August—Canada

Meetings in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Traveling with Sister Nelson, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Kathy Andersen

It was another three-devotionals-in-three-days trip to Canada, but this time visiting a trio of provinces.

The Montreal devotional was provided in four languages—English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin—as evidence of the Church’s multicultural presence in Quebec and Ontario.

As part of his teachings in the last two stops, President Nelson took time to underscore a public statement he had made earlier in the week about the correct use of the Church’s full name—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See related article.)

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, leave the Langley Events Center after speaking in Langley, British Columbia, on Sunday, September 16, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

September—Caribbean

Meetings in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and San Juan, Puerto Rico

Traveling with Sister Nelson, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Ruth Renlund

Less than a month later, President Nelson was on the road again—this time to the Caribbean.

In his September 1 devotional in Santo Domingo, he surprised those attending by offering his remarks in their native Spanish—the first time a Church President has delivered a substantial address in a language other than English. (See related article.)

And the next day in San Juan, less than a year after the island territory was hit by a terrible twosome of hurricanes, he encouraged members to find peace during difficult times. (See related article.)

The next month, during the October 2018 general conference, he would announce a temple for Puerto Rico.

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles joined President Russell M. Nelson in the Dominican Republic Saturday, September 1, 2018.

September—Pacific Northwest

Meetings in Seattle, Washington, and Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Traveling with Sister Nelson and President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency

Two weeks after speaking in the Caribbean, President Nelson visited the Pacific Northwest, highlighted by speaking at Seattle’s Safeco Field to a gathering of nearly 50,000—making for the largest non-sporting event held in the baseball stadium.

He shared five lessons “life has taught me” while speaking from a stage set at second base. (See related article.)

The Nelsons—joined by President Eyring of the First Presidency—made a third foray into Canada by holding a second-evening devotional in Langley, of metropolitan Vancouver. (See related article.)

People gather at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington, to hear President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, September 15, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

October—South America

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, left, poses with Peru President Martín Vizcarra at the presidential palace in Lima, Peru, on Saturday, October 20, 2018. Photo courtesy of the president of Peru.

Meetings in Lima, Peru; El Alto, Bolivia; Asunción, Paraguay; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Concepción, Chile

Traveling with Sister Nelson, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Lesa Stevenson

Crisscrossing the southern half of South America, President Nelson spoke at missionary and member meetings in five countries, from Peru’s capital city overlooking the Pacific Ocean to Bolivia’s high-altitude reaches some 13,600 feet above sea level and next to one of the continent’s oldest cities in Asunción and on to the South Atlantic harbor city of Montevideo.

In Lima, he met with Peru President Martín Vizcarr, and in Concepción, he met with Governor Jorge Ulloa Aguillon.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, stand with attendees Augustine Escobar and Lilieth Rojas during the cornerstone ceremony of the Concepción Chile Temple on Sunday, October 28, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

A fitting conclusion to the five-country, nine-day trip was President Nelson’s dedication of the Concepción Chile Temple, his first temple dedication as Church President. (See related story.) In addition to the three sessions conducted on Sunday, October 28, he met with 1,500 local youth the evening before in a devotional setting.

November—Texas

Meeting in San Antonio, Texas

Traveling with Sister Nelson, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Susan Bednar

Just three weeks after his South America travels, President Nelson spoke on November 18 to a crowd of 23,000 at San Antonio’s Alamodome, exhorting them to exercise faith in God and to trust in His divine plan.

Prior to the devotional, he met with Most Reverend Gustavo Garcia-Siller, the Catholic Archbishop of San Antonio.

President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy Nelson greet the Vargas family at the Hyde Park Visitors’ Center in London on Thursday, April 12, 2018. The boys are Juan David Vargas Saavedra, right, and Joseph Daniel Vargas Saavedra. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the Jerusalem District Conference at the BYU Jerusalem Center. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

“The message of the Lord Jesus Christ is a message of hope, it is a message of love, it is a message of joy,” said President Nelson. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in Jerusalem while on a global tour of eight countries. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.



Pinky Mahendra, left, and Eunice Nyawera pose for a photo before a special devotional with President Russell M. Nelson in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday, April 16, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy Nelson greet Mercy Makau and her daughter Gloria Nashipai at the home of Makau's aunt in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday, April 16, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.


President Russell M. Nelson speaks during a special devotional in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday, April 16, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles look over a possible temple site in Bengaluru, India, on Thursday, April 19, 2018. They are accompanied by Elder Randy D. Funk, General Authority Seventy, and Elder Robert K. William, an Area Seventy. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson greets missionaries prior to a conference in Bengaluru, India, on Thursday, April 19, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson greets Nadine Sunderraj, Nathalee Sunderraj, and their mother, Stella Sunderraj, after the devotional in Bengaluru, India, on Thursday, April 19, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, hold Four Tanapumtonger after a devotional in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday, April 20, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson; his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson; Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and Sister Patricia Holland tour the Church site to be used for a temple in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday, April 20, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Doris Leonard cries as President Russell M. Nelson leaves the stand after a devotional in Hong Kong on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

A young girl places a lei on President Russell M. Nelson in Laie, Hawaii, on April 22, during the prophet’s final stop on his global tour.

President Russell M. Nelson greets members on June 8, 2018, in Edmonton, Alberta.

A man holds up his son to see the prophet during a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Friday, August 17, 2018.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent the weekend, September 1–2, 2018, consoling and encouraging Church members in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Primary children raise their hands at the request of President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Langley Events Center in Langley, British Columbia, on Sunday, September 16, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, hug their grandson Elder Nicholas Nelson, a missionary serving in the Uruguay Montevideo Mission, prior to a missionary meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Thursday, October 25, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, wave to attendees after a devotional in Lima, Peru, on October 20, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Sergio Rubin, Argentine journalist and biographer of Pope Francis, interviews President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Montevideo, Uruguay, on October 26, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is interviewed by Sergio Rubin, Argentine journalist and biographer of Pope Francis, in Montevideo, Uruguay, on October 26, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.